Japan’s Coming of Age Day, held in January to celebrate young people who have turned 20 in the last year, involves dressing up in fancy kimono to attend an official ceremony, followed by a trip to the shrine or (more likely) an afterparty.

Or, to put it another way, every 20-year-old in the country is invited to a party to celebrate the fact they’re old enough to drink alcohol. Perhaps it’s no surprise then that in recent years, each Coming of Age Day has brought with it a small number of arrests, as rowdy enjoyment spills over into reckless driving and alcohol-related incidents.

Okinawa in particular boasts some of the wildest Coming of Age celebrations in Japan. This year, filmmaker and Okinawa native Hisashi Hamamoto headed to some of the busiest spots to film the partygoers. Join us after the jump for kids blocking traffic, shaking champagne about and generally having a riot, Japan-style.

Having been a separate nation until 1879, it’s not surprising that in Okinawa, they do things a little differently than mainland Japan. As well as being geographically remote, Okinawa also has its own languages and customs…

Like the important cultural experience that is blasting a klaxon in your mate’s ear as you ride around in a souped-up rental car.

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Hamamoto’s footage is mostly focused on the megaphone-wielding young men who roar around the streets on Coming of Age Day, revving their engines and generally drawing attention to themselves. In the middle of intersections, these young drivers loop around and around, refusing to move even when the lights change and pedestrians begin to cross.

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In fact, eight people were arrested in Urama City, Okinawa, on this year’s Coming of Age Day (Monday, January 12) for offences including reckless driving, ignoring traffic signals, and obstructing a police officer in the performance of their duties.

▼ Some guys knew it’s cool to be safe though…Young men in matching traditional hakama pants and haori jackets walk to the ceremony.

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Hamamoto also captured some of the disturbance on camera. One young man, sitting on his friend’s shoulders, leans over and swipes a police officer’s hat, crowing victoriously as he places it on his own head. The officer quickly pulls the man down by his robes, and a skirmish unfolds.

▼ We guess this guy just wanted to be a police officer now he’s all grown up?
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▼ Actually, there was a heavy police presence in an attempt to keep the peace.Screen Shot 2015-01-13 at 10.50.21

▼ Officers can be seen laughing and joking with an argumentative young man, as they make him wait until it’s safe to cross the road.


▼ Although, sometimes it’s harder to tell who’s police and who’s not… Screen Shot 2015-01-13 at 10.19.47

▼ You can watch the first of Hamamoto’s videos below. The series shows celebrating young adults in Mihama, Okinawa City, and the capital Naha.

Online, Japanese commenters were singularly unimpressed:

“As a 20-year-old myself, I’m ashamed of them.”

“They think this is cool? Okinawa must be thirty years behind [the rest of Japan].”

“Gahhh. Parts of Okinawa are like this! Not all of Okinawa though.”

Seeing as the ceremony is supposed to celebrate young people becoming adults, it is sad to see things getting out of hand and more arrests being made. As one commenter put it: “It doesn’t exactly make you want to congratulate them on entering adulthood, does it?”

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Sources: YouTube/Hisashi HamamotoYomiuri Shimbun
Image: YouTube/Hisashi Hamamoto
Related: Hisashi Hamamoto’s blog